Saturday, January 29, 2022
To anyone who was disappointed that last week's Saturday History Tour featured only one editorial cartoon, I apologize. This week, I'll bring you twice as many.
On the weekend of January 26-27, 1922, a heavy blizzard made its way slowly up the east coast, dumping 20" or more of snow from the Carolinas to Pennsylvania, including atop the Knickerbocker Theater in our nation's capital.
|ad in Washington Times, Jan. 22, 1922|
On Saturday, January 28, the weight of all that snow collapsed the theatre's roof onto upwards of 300 people there shortly after the silent comedy "Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford" had begun. The roof fell onto the balcony, which in turn collapsed onto the orchestra level. Many witnesses reported that the crash came suddenly and without warning — no prior creaking or groaning of the timbers supporting the structure.
On the other hand, one survivor, Washington Post film reviewer John Jay Daly, said that he was alerted to a problem as the few first crumbs of plaster fell. He exited to the lobby moments before the ceiling fell inside the theater, and found himself thus the Post's reporter at the scene, fending off other survivors who wanted him to get off the phone across the street so they could call for help.
There were several newspapers publishing in Washington D.C. at the time, but to the best of my knowledge, only one of them employed its own editorial cartoonist. So while the front page of Monday's Washington Evening Star sported this cartoon by Clifford Berryman...
|"Columbia's Anguish" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, Jan. 30, 1922|
...the other newspapers in town ran cartoons about the Harding administration selling the navy up the river, or reminiscing about school days, etc. There is, however, a generic quality to Berryman's cartoon: absent any reference to the theatre, the snow, or anything else peculiar to this particular disaster, the cartoon could just as easily have been something sitting in Berryman's desk waiting for death to strike anywhere.
All the other newspapers in town covered the story, of course:
|Sunday Star and Washington Herald of Jan. 29, 1922; Washington Times of Jan. 30, 1922|
The disaster occurred after the Sunday Washington Times went to press, but it caught up with the other newspapers in town on Monday. Its death count turned out to be slightly exaggerated; the official toll would be 98 dead, 133 injured. The disaster was, at the time, the second most deadly structural engineering failure in the United States, after the Pemberton Mill collapse in Lawrenceville, Massachusetts in 1860. (The collapse of Kansas City, Missouri's Hyatt Regency walkway in 1981 would kill 114; last year's collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida last year currently ties the Knickerbocker disaster in third place.)
The dead at the theater included former Congressman Andrew J. Barchfeld of Pennsylvania and the wife of his son Elmer, members of the orchestra including director Ernest Nattiello, a sister of the Guatemalan minister, capitol reporters from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Pittsburgh Dispatch, as well as students, businessmen, military officials, attorneys, and men, women and children from many walks of life.
Flags at the nation's capital were ordered flown at half-staff for ten days.
|Photo in Washington Herald, Jan. 29, 1922|
At the time, the Knickerbocker had been the newest and largest movie theater in D.C. Building inspector John G. Healy initially told reporters that he saw no-one to blame for the collapse. "In my opinion, it was nothing more than the hand of God. It was one of those things that cannot be explained. However, the facts are such that it would suggest that although the construction of the roof met all the necessary requirements, the point which first gave way under the strain was not strong enough to hold the great weight of the snow."
|Photo in Washington Evening Star, Jan. 30|
Although there were reports that theater staff had considered shoveling the snow off the roof but decided not to, the focus of investigations quickly centered on the building's construction — Inspector Healy's attempts to blame God for the disaster notwithstanding.
Harry Crandall commissioned architect Reginald Geare to design the theater in 1917. Investigations by the city government and coroner's office, and both houses of Congress, would conclude that the disaster was the result of Geare's use of arch girders instead of stone pillars to support the roof
|"The Life Taker" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 31, 1922|
Their careers in ruins, Geare died by suicide in 1927, and Crandall killed himself ten years after that. You might consider their suicides to bring the disaster's total death toll up to an even 100.
Friday, January 28, 2022
Thursday, January 27, 2022
The Mars candy company decided to redesign the outfits of their two female animated M&M characters this month. No longer does the brown M strut about in stiletto heels. The green M has swapped out go-go boots for sneakers.
All this was too much for Fox "News" host Tucker Carlson, who lit into Mars Incorporated on his show for going all woke and ruining his hard-shelled chocolaty sexual fantasies.
Now, for all I know, the scenario I have presented this week would really turn Tucker on. As long as the gals didn't start wearing flannel, khaki and facial piercings. They've already got the shaved head look.
After several week's of nothing but wordy four-panel cartoons, I was ready for something in a single panel. So thank you, Tucker Carlson, for devoting some of your umbrage to a couple of candy mascots changing their footwear.
Just wait until he finds out that the blue M was assigned pink at birth.
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Too many editorial cartoonists have drawn Mitch McConnell concocting some arcane Senate rule to deny President Biden any Supreme Court appointment at all.
This means that the rest of us have to draw Joe Manchin concocting some reason to deny President Biden any Supreme Court appointment at all.
Monday, January 24, 2022
Saturday, January 22, 2022
My Saturday History Tours usually display several editorial cartoons; but today, I'm featuring only one.
It was the only cartoon I could find on this topic.
|"What's the Idea" by J. N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, Jan. 12, 1922|
Today, Warren G. Harding is remembered, first and foremost, for the Teapot Dome scandal, an oil leasing scheme that only blew wide open after President Harding's premature demise. "Ding" Darling's cartoon introduces us to the man who would become the central figure in the scandal, Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall.
Putting government coal and petroleum resources under the control of Fall's Interior Department was Harding administration policy from the beginning. Harding transferred the Teapot Dome oil field in Wyoming from the purview of the Navy Department (as established during the Taft administration to ensure that the Navy would have sufficient oil reserves for its fleet) to the Interior Department by a little-noticed executive order in June of 1921.
Darling's cartoon, however, is about transferring control of Alaska's natural resources from the Department of Agriculture to the Interior Department, which required congressional action. This is 37 years before Alaska became a state; even more of the territory was under direct federal control as is still the case now. Its governor, at this point Republican Scott C. Bone, was not elected, but a presidential appointee. Neither Bone nor any of his predecessors were actually from Alaska.
Harding was wholeheartedly in favor of opening up Alaskan resources, but as you should be able to tell from Darling's cartoon, Darling's pro-environment sentiments led the Iowa-raised cartoonist to fear the consequences of handing those resources over to predatory interests.
Few in Alaskan business or political leadership shared Darling's trepidation. Wilson-appointed Former Gov. Thomas Riggs (D) wrote a column in the December 18, 1921 New York Times, advocating for local control "without the hampering apron strings of most of the 48 fussy old stepmothers in Washington":
"I do not know where a constructive enterprise ends and a predatory interest begins, but I sincerely wish that a few more of one or the other were allowed to come into the Territory to open up great mines, build railroads, explore for oil and coal, establish paper plants and pay the taxes."
Sen. Harry S. New (R-IN), Chair of the Senate Committee on Territories, authored a bill on November 8, 1921 to provide for the transfer from Agriculture to Interior of oil and coal mining leases, national forest reservations, ranger stations and lighthouses. Testifying before Senator New's committee, Secretary Fall, previously a Senator from New Mexico, boasted that he had in fact been the one to write New's bill:
"I discussed the matter with the President. His policy toward developing Alaska and my bill for coordination was introduced in accordance with his ideals."
Testifying against the New/Fall bill's provisions to put Alaska's forests under the authority of the Interior Department, Chief U.S. Forester Col. W.B. Greeley argued that no economy would be achieved by such a move.
Rep. Charles F. Curry (R-CA), Chair of the House Committee on Territories, put forth a House bill similar to Senator New's on December 22. By then, however, New had tabled his Senate bill, reasoning that he, Fall, and President Harding should first visit the Alaskan territory the next summer.
Harding didn't get around to making that visit until July, 1923, and died before making it back to Washington D.C.
By the way, "Sec. Wallace" in Darling's cartoon is Secretary of Agriculture Henry C. Wallace, the father of Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture and Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt, and Progressive Party presidential nominee in 1948.
Thursday, January 20, 2022
"The 2013 decision by Senate Democrats to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for most judicial and presidential nominations led directly to a response in 2017 by Senate Republicans, who eliminated the threshold for Supreme Court nominees."These short-sighted actions by both parties have led to our current American Judiciary and Supreme Court, which, as I stand here today, is considering questions regarding fundamental rights Americans have enjoyed for decades."
"More pro-life bills, more bills promoting, let's see, universal carry under the Second Amendment, say, more border security ... those are just a few of the areas."
Monday, January 17, 2022
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Sarinback Saturday takes us back in history once more, even before Abbott met Costello, to the beginning of the new year a century ago.
|"Go Back" by John Cassel in New York World, Jan. 9, 1922|
As January 1922 dawned, negotiations in Washington D.C. among the major Entente powers toward the Washington Naval Treaty were nearing a successful completion.
|"The Process of Elimination" by Clifford Berryman in Washington (DC) Evening Star, Jan. 8, 1922|
Most U.S. cartoonists (but not all, as we shall see in a bit) greeted the news of progress with enthusiasm. Cartoonists were most impressed with the Conference's moves to ban the use of poison gas and attacks against merchant and passenger shipping by submarines, seen as heinous tactics of the German military.
In fact, France and the U.S. also used chemical weapons against the Germans; and even after the Washington Naval Treaty was signed, Great Britain, France, Spain, and Italy employed poison gas against independence fighters in their various colonial possessions. Well after the Geneva Convention of 1925, Japan still used poison gas in China. Consider also that the U.S. made extensive use of Agent Orange in Vietnam; an herbicide, it is nevertheless a chemical weapon and had deleterious health effects on the soldiers and civilians exposed to it.
|"Making a New Book..." by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, Jan. 14, 1922|
Elihu Root, formerly a Republican Senator, Secretary of War and Secretary of State, was a member of the U.S. delegation, along with Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and Democratic Senator Oscar Underwood. I am not sure why Darling chose to feature Root in this cartoon rather than then-Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, who was head of the delegation and very actively involved in it, but there was some pushback over Hughes's proposed ten-year "naval holiday."
|"Oh, What a Pal Is Sammy" by Frederick Opper in Washington (D.C.) Times, Jan. 5, 1922|
|"Beware of the Wiles of Foreign Diplomacy" by Winsor McCay in Washington (D.C.) Times, Jan. 6, 1922|
That pushback was pressed daily in William Randolph Hearst's newspapers, whose editorialists and cartoonists charged that the other nations at the Conference, especially Japan and Great Britain, were playing the U.S. for fools. In its opposition to the "naval holiday" proposal, the Hearst press brooked no distinction between Hughes and the rest of the U.S. delegation; Frederick Opper depicted all four of them as witless suckers five or six days a week for the entire month of January in his "Oh, What a Pal Is Sammy" series.
|"Auf der Hinterfront des Abrüstungskomödienhauses" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Jan. 8, 1922|
Outside of the Germans and the Hearst cartoonists, however, rejoicing and congratulations were the rule of the day.
|"Time for Them to Go Home" by Dorman H. Smith for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. Jan. 12, 1922|
The Europeans, to take up Freddy Opper's point, were not the only ones engaging in "intrigue and chicanery." Unbeknownst to the other parties to the conference, the host country was spying on the communications with their governments back home. The "Black Chamber" in the U.S. Cypher Bureau was able to determine exactly how little the Japanese were willing to settle for — the short end of a 5:5:3 ratio of battleships with the U.S. and Great Britain — and got it.
|"Back to Your Master..." by Elmer Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. Jan. 12, 1922|
Top brass in the Japanese Imperial Navy were, naturally, upset with those terms. But Japanese negotiator Isaruku Yamamoto had seen American industrial facilities in Detroit and Texas, and believed that absent the treaty, the U.S. could easily outpace Japan in any all-out arms race.
|"Not Exactly Our Idea of the Dove..." by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 5, 1922|
France and Italy settled for even smaller submarine fleets than did Japan, although you would never know that from Nelson Harding's cartoon about the Briand government's dissatisfaction therewith. (Prime Minister Aristide Briand and his cabinet resigned in January, but that was over his failure to reach agreement with Germany on reparations.)
|"The Doxology" by Dorman H. Smith for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. Jan. 17, 1922|
The Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty was signed on February 6, 1922, mandating that 26 American, 24 British, and 16 Japanese warships that were either already built or under construction be scrapped. The U.S., Great Britain, Japan, France and Italy also agreed to Hughes's ten-year "naval holiday," abandoning previous capital-ship building programs with some specified exceptions. Under another article in the treaty, the United States, Great Britain, and Japan agreed to maintain the status quo with regard to their fortifications and naval bases in the eastern Pacific.
Thursday, January 13, 2022
have made it onto the United States' Olympic figure skating team in Beijing next month.
NASHVILLE — Early Sunday morning, U.S. Figure Skating made official what was clearly obvious the previous night: The pairs skating team of Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc that won the U.S. figure skating championships Saturday will be going to the Beijing Olympics.
The announcement meant LeDuc, who identifies as nonbinary, will become the first openly nonbinary Winter Olympian.
“It’s really exciting, but I hope that the narrative does not center around me and my journey and my accomplishments but that the narrative switches to queer people having the opportunity to be open and be authentic to themselves and everything that makes them unique and still achieve in sport,” LeDuc said after the team announcement at Bridgestone Arena. “So often queer people have to adjust themselves and sacrifice authenticity to achieve success.”
The singular plural pronouns will undoubtedly pose a challenge to some of the announcers broadcasting the games on NBC and other countries' networks. Sooner or later, someone is going to lapse into the habit of referring to the individual skater as he or him; or someone else is going to be confused as to whether they/them refers to one or both skaters.
English speakers became accustomed centuries ago to the plural "you/you/your" displacing the singular "thou/thee/thy." If this "they/them/their" usage becomes standard, I suppose "they-all" — contracted to "th'all"— will take root in Dixie, and "thinz" in Pittsburgh.
I will admit that I had some difficulty reaching a punch line for the above cartoon, and I thought that appending a reference to Abbott and Costello's famed "Who's On First" sketch would resonate.
Not, it turns out, with the editor and publishers at the syndicate office, none of whom recognized the reference.
Maybe I should have drawn Abbott and Costello watching the television coverage. Or maybe nobody under the age of Dirt remembers Abbott and Costello any more.
Oh, well. My editor asked for a "tweak" to the cartoon, which is not as easy as "tweaking" a text editorial. Ideally, I could have had the TV announcers veer into the routine:
Tara: "Okay. Let's say Timothy and Ashley skate out onto the rink together. Who's non-binary?"
Johnny: "Who's on first."
Tara: "Nobody's on first, they skated out together."
And on and on. But I didn't have six more panels to work What, I Don't Know, Tomorrow, Because, and I Don't Care into the mix. For that matter, I didn't even have a whole lot of space in that fourth panel for my television viewers to say much in the first place.
So anyway, here's the change I made to the final panel for my editors and you young whippersnappers out there.
I'm hoping you don't have to be familiar with Spike Jones for this.
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
"K Chronicles" cartoonist Keith Knight has launched a project to change the way people — or at least our computer algorithm overlords — perceive the term "black mug shot."
“‘Black Mug Shots’ came from my frustration with the proliferation of mugshots, especially of people of color, online,” Knight told Boston.com. “This perpetuation of every Black person that you see on the internet is in a mugshot is harmful.”
So in a cartoon last month, he invited Black readers to post photos of themselves with their coffee mugs, and non-Black readers to post photos of themselves with black mugs, using the hashtag #blackmugshot.
I'm a bit late to the party, but I've got a couple of black mugs in the cupboard... so why not?
Monday, January 10, 2022
Just to be clear about a brief comment I made in Saturday's post, I'm fine. I don't even know if what I came down with over New Year's was COVID-19 or merely the common cold. My husband came down with something, too, at about the same time, but tested negative for exposure to COVID-19. Twice.
With news reports these days of children coming into hospitals for unrelated reasons and then testing positive for COVID-19 — and even newborns testing positive — I do wonder whether exposure to the virus is going to become like having microplastics in our bodies: bad for you, eventually harmful, but universal.
Now, don't mistake me for one of those denialist Pollyannas blithely dismissing coronavirus as something we'll all get herd immunity to. It has been a small blessing that the current omicron variant, while more contagious, seems to be less fatal.
But it could yet turn out to be the lull before pi, rho, sigma, or tau.
Saturday, January 8, 2022
It's that strange feeling you sometime....mmmms get ... that you've drawn something thirty years before.
|in UW-Milwaukee Post, Jan. 21, 1992|
When that election year started out, the sheen was wearing off from Operation Desert Storm, Bush the Elder's splendid little war to liberate the Emirate of Kuwait from the evil clutches of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
|Drawn, apparently, for a January 16, 1992 issue that wasn't published|
Bush entered that election year dealing with renewed concern over the state of the economy, in part due to worries that the balance of trade between the U.S. and Japan had begun to tilt in Tokyo's favor. His highly publicized trip to Japan would be remembered, however, for an unfortunate bout of intestinal flu during a state dinner with Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa.
|in UWM Post, January 27, 1992|
Dozens of Democrats, meanwhile, were vying for the nomination to run against Bush in November. Leading the pack was one William Jefferson Clinton, a former Governor of Arkansas. When his campaign was rocked by an accusation of an extramarital affair, it seemed to be a replay of the scandal that scuttled Gary Hart's run for the Democrats' 1988 presidential nomination.
|in Milwaukee Journal, "Taking Names" column, February 4, 1992|
I've rerun that cartoon before, and whenever I do, I have to accompany it with this clipping — the only time I've ever appeared in the Milwaukee Journal and/or Sentinel.
Okay now, today's post seems to be running a bit short. Christmas was kind of hectic and I topped it off with a mild case of the 'rona — thanks to my being fully vaccinated and boosted, it wasn't any worse, and I'm pretty sure I'm over it. (Although it keeps trying to flare up again after I think it's gone.) I haven't had the energy to do the kind of research you, dear reader, deserve, so I end up today posting three cartoons from a month when I only drew four.
And I don't have anything to say about that fourth cartoon, so here's one from January, 1982, instead.
|in UW-Parkside Ranger, Somers, WI, Jan. 21, 1982|
For those of you not old enough to remember Ronald Reagan's first Secretary of State, General Al Haig, you really missed a master of military syntax. It actually earned the neologism "Haigspeak," defined as "Language characterized by pompous obscurity resulting from redundancy, the semantically strained use of words, and verbosity," or "not using one syllable when five would do."
It's kind of a shame he only lasted in office a little over a year, because satirizing his brusque demeanor and linguistic legerdemain was actually rather fun.
Thursday, January 6, 2022
“On Wednesday, Ms. Schneider, 42, an engineering manager from Oakland, Calif., became the first woman in the show’s history to achieve 21 consecutive wins,” said the New York Times.
Yahoo! Entertainment credited Ms. Schneider with “the longest winning streak by any female player.”
Days earlier, NBC News declared her the show’s “top female earner” after she passed Larissa Kelly’s total all-time winnings of $655,930 with her Dec. 24 victory. Ms. Schneider also has exceeded Ms. Collins’ regular-season earnings mark, according to the show’s website.
“Amy Schneider continues streak as highest-earning and longest-winning woman in ‘Jeopardy!’ history,” tweeted “CBS Sunday Morning.”
Right-wingers from Ben Shapiro to Mollie Hemingway to the Babylon Bee are upset that, in the Bee's words, “it is now an undeniable fact that, if a woman wants to claim the title of highest-earning female competitor on this game show, she’s … going to have to beat a man for the title.”
Schneider responded to the criticism by tweeting
I’d like to thank all the people who have taken the time, during this busy holiday season, to reach out and explain to me that, actually, I’m a man. Every single one of you is the first person ever to make that very clever point, which had never once before crossed my mind 🙏
I guess that it is at least somewhat encouraging that, unlike the fella in my cartoon this week, the right-wing whining squad is not claiming that Ms. Schneider's gender gives her some unwarranted advantage in the game. They're just verklempt that she is usurping titles that rightfully belong to Julia Collins and Larissa Kelly. Whether their clutched pearls are any solace to those two Jeopardy champions remains to be tweeted — but I suspect that the two of them are doing just fine.
Meanwhile, Amy Schneider racked up her 26th win on last night's program, reaching $950,000 in winnings. She also reported having been mugged over the weekend.
Julia Collins and Larissa Kelly have been cleared as suspects.
Monday, January 3, 2022
Considering the fact that I need her to keep winning at least through the end of this week for my cartoon to be relevant by the time it gets published anywhere, I'm afraid I might have just jinxed her.
Saturday, January 1, 2022
It's de rigeur for us cartoonists to ring out the year by bringing out our dead cartoons of the past twelve months. So, here, instead of my usual Saturday fare of ancient history (besides, it's been done), is a collage to remember 2021 by.
So here, with the usual caveats about what makes headlines any more, is my traditional collection of the year in headlines.
With my wishes for a healthier, safer, saner, happier new year,